Author: Charles B. Goldfarb, Specialist in Telecommunications Policy
The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 (STELA), P.L. 111-175, modified the copyright and carriage rules for satellite and cable retransmission of broadcast television signals. The legislation was needed to reauthorize (through December 31, 2014) certain expiring provisions in the Copyright Act and the Communications Act and to update the language in those acts to reflect the transition from analog to digital transmission of broadcast signals, as well as to address certain public policy issues. Had the expiring provisions not been reauthorized, satellite operators would have lost access to a statutory compulsory copyright license and to statutory relief from retransmission consent requirements. This would have made it difficult, if not impossible, for them to retransmit certain distant broadcast signals to their subscribers, including signals providing otherwise unavailable broadcast network programming.